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Project Manhattan / Wikimedia Commons

Secretary of State Mark Martin is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit trying to block from the November ballot a proposal to expand alcohol sales to all 75 of the state's counties.

Martin's office on Tuesday responded to the lawsuit filed last week by Citizens for Local Rights, which argues the state used the wrong deadline for accepting petitions to place the alcohol measure on the November ballot. The group argues that the state should have used July 4 as the deadline, rather than July 7.

The authors of two, identical rejected petitions over a water project have filed a Garland County lawsuit to force the initiative onto the November ballot.

The Sentinel-Record reports Greg Pritchett and Bob Driggers filed the suit against Hot Springs' city clerk and the Garland County Election Commission on Monday.

The identical petitions sought to have an ordinance placed on the ballot to direct Hot Springs officials to stop taking water from DeGray Lake and build a new water treatment plant.

Teacher Salary Increase Options
Screenshot of Bureau of Legislative Research Report / BLR

Plans to raise minimum teacher salaries by less than a few thousand dollars could cost the state between $2 million and $ 7 million dollars. The Bureau of Legislative Research presented Arkansas lawmakers Monday with several routes toward increasing the minimum pay for teachers to nearly $31,000. Currently minimum pay for a bachelor’s degree is just over $29,000.

State Senator Joyce Elliott (D) stands with newly certified teachers.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas legislators are considering whether traditional public schools should be operated more like charter schools. On Monday a joint meeting of the Education committees approved conducting a study to identify best practices from charter schools that could be applied to public schools.

The publicly financed, independently run charter schools number about 40 in the state and are a growing part of the education system. State Representative Charles Armstrong proposed conducting the study.

Government auditors say Arkansas' private option Medicaid plan will cost taxpayers an extra $778 million over the next three years rather than being "revenue-neutral" to the federal budget.

The Department of Health and Human Services disagreed with the findings, which were released Monday. It said the federal Government Accountability Office didn't take into consideration major program changes within Arkansas' Medicaid system.

A group backed by Walmart and Kum & Go has filed an appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court to let Saline County residents vote on whether not to legalize alcohol in the Nov. 4 election.

Circuit Judge Grisham Phillips ruled in a lawsuit last week that a petition to place alcohol sales on the November ballot in Saline County fell short by nearly 90 signatures. Phillips had disqualified 159 signatures.

Inside C & H Hog Farms near Mount Judea
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

Minnesota-based food processor Cargill says it has no plans to shutter or relocate an Arkansas hog farm, despite concerns from environmentalists who say the operation poses a pollution threat to the Buffalo River nearby.

A Cargill spokesman said Monday the company is committed to installing newer technology at its Mount Judea facility and has already self-imposed a moratorium on expansion of hog production in the watershed area.

At least four conservation groups have raised concerns that manure runoff could affect the quality of one of Arkansas' crown jewels.

Arkansas Private Option Enrollment Keeps Growing

Sep 8, 2014

Almost 200,000 people have signed up for the Medicaid expansion program—the “Private Option”—aimed at extending health care coverage to low-income Arkansans.

Arkansas Department of Human Services said Monday that 194,257 people have completed enrollment.

Spokeswoman Amy Webb said they expect the number to continue to increase.

“From our perspective interest in the program continues to be strong and we think the private option is working as it was anticipated,” she said.

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says a Little Rock man is in jail after he allegedly used a stun gun on a deputy.

Pulaski County Sheriff's Lt. Carl Minden says deputies were trying to pull over 35-year-old Marcus Venson Sunday night because he was suspected of pointing a gun at a resident.

Minden says Venson wrestled with authorities who tried to arrest him, then took a stun gun from one of the deputies. A report says Venson then used the stun gun on the deputy's face.

Signs are being placed on the Arkansas River Trail in central Arkansas to help emergency responders find people need help while on the trail.

The Arkansas River Trail Task Force says the "emergency medallions" will include a set of initials and numbers that are coded to longitude and latitude coordinates.

Callers can tell 911 dispatchers the initials and numbers to indicate their location on the trail.

Over 100 medallions will be installed along the Arkansas River Trail loop in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County.

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